Thursday, March 20, 2008

Future Evolution Printouts

I've mentioned it in the past, but one thing that eludes developers is the passion that users have for eye candy and especially printouts. Regular computer users just absolutely *love* to hold paper, even if it's easier and more efficient to do the same tasks with their software.

Evolution really needs a simple plugin system for creating printout templates. I would love to contribute templates in this manner, for inclusion in future releases. I suspect many others feel the same way.

We had an immediate need to create a printout that should come from Evolution itself. I ended up just writing my own little program using the CreateSimple perl library which allows for easy generation of PDF files. The script opens an .ics file and then formats the output. It only prints boxes for dates with appointments. All of the current Evolution printouts are time based, and this one is more event based.

This is the kind of stuff that would move Evolution ahead of competing products in the minds of regular computer users.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Relax Time

If you work full time and own a home, it's very easy to lose almost all of your hours of the day. 4-5 times a week I try and get on my bike and ride around my neighborhood. This weekend was particularly wonderful. I always enjoy seeing pictures from around the world, these are from my neck of the woods:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Compiz Bounty Possibility

We use a development tool for City applications that is using the Motif widgets. When I have more time, I'll create a detailed blog about why we continue to use this product. It really works very well, and allows for developing business applications with just a few clicks.

I suspect Motif applications are not tested on Compiz heavily and we have two minor problems. If anyone wants to chat with me about a possible bounty, find me on the IRC as 'dave_largo' and private me to get my attention.

The first issue is that about 1 out of 100 times a motif dialog box will open as 1 pixel by 1 pixel. See the two shots below, one is how it *should* look and the other is how it looks when if fails.

(note small emerald container hovering over the application)

(The next time that I clicked on it, it worked fine)

The other issue is that this application loses focus when you move your mouse off the UI. On Metacity, it works correctly. So the users are having to always keep their mouse hovered over the top of this screen, which will force us to re-train people.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Off and on I have been tinkering with screenlets. Poking around, I found that the dbus-python package that ships with OpenSuse 10.2 does not work with them. After some updated RPMs were installed, things started working. I went through the shipped screenlets and the extra third party ones and installed those that were appropriate for business and to be run on a server. (I don't want users watching the temperatures of the CPUs :) ). I also did not feel the screenlet manager could be deployed to users, and created unique icons for each application. It all seems to work fine.

Screenlets are written in Python, which should allow us to rapidly develop some small standalone applications that look great from the users perspective. I already have a few ideas:

- An application that shows realtime status at our recreation sites, money received in the current day.
- An application to show the items on the upcoming Commission meetings via iCal.
- Show current and upcoming meetings in conference rooms.

Thanks to those working on that project, this will allow the Linux desktop to continue to have excellent presentation. As much as we hate to admit it as IT people, much of the success of technology comes from eye candy.

The screenshot below was taken with a camera, and shows exactly the current users experience on our thin clients.